I just found out about a local volunteer and advocacy group that calls itself “Pahlawan Volunteers”. It also has a presence on Facebook with the same name. I was more impressed by its slogan “Negara Kita, Tanggungjawab Kita.” The letter below was originally posted on the Pahlawan Volunteers blog.
MCCBCHST (Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism & Taoism) notes with deep concern that the cowhead incident in Shah Alam is not an isolated case. Another recent example of this kind of insensitivity was when the Holy Eucharist was desecrated when certain persons went to a church, took the consecrated bread and spewed it out.
Such irreverent and sacrilegious conduct should not be condoned and allowed to be repeated with impunity. In seating the organisers of the recent demonstration in Shah Alam to his right and left during his press conference, the home affairs minister seemed to have bestowed honour to the perpetrators of a gravely offensive and dangerous event whereby seditious speeches accompanied by the stepping on the severed head of the cow were made. What signals would this send to the people?
Not surprisingly, therefore, the same disrespectful, unruly and unwilling to listen behaviour on the part of some rendered the town hall meeting between the Menteri Besar and Section 23 residents to discuss the issue on September 5 2009 unmanageable and unproductive.
The same rules must apply to all.
MCCBCHST is concerned that wheareas in the August 28 2009 Shah Alam incident the police had stood by while the demonstrators desecrated the cow head and made seditious speeches, the police acted strongly against would-be candlelight vigilers in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka on September 5 2009. Also, Malaysiakini has now been warned by MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) not to make the video showing the terrible acts in the Shah Alam incident available for viewing to their readers.
Thinking Malaysians will rightly raise the question: Which comes first- the act or the video which exposes the act? How do we as a country go about resolving our problems? In this case, stopping the video of the act will not unmake the act. We must surely first prevent the act and the video would not have existed.
For the sake and good of all Malaysians and peace and order in Malaysia, consistent, fair, just and rational measures should be applied regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, gender or political connection.
There must be one rule for all Malaysians.
All who incite ill feelings amongst religious communities, denigrate any religion, desecrate the religious symbols of any religion or threaten to commit violence against others must be promptly deterred and held accountable. They must face charges and given a fair trial in a court of law.
Sacrilegious acts committed by adherents of any one religion upon another religion must never be condoned. We hold to the principle that all human beings and communities have a sacred right of freedom of choice as far as their religious belief and practice is concerned.
We stand with Malaysians of all religious and political persuasions who were outraged by the flagrant disregard for the sensitivities of others shown by the Shah Alam demonstrators.
We welcome the partnership of all Malaysians of goodwill. Together we can weather the mischief and bigotry of those who seek to drive a wedge between us and divide rather than unite the people of this land.
We Malaysians live in a pluralistic society and accordingly we must respect our neighbours and endeavour to learn about their beliefs, customs and sentiments. It is upon such understanding of others and what is dear to them that our nation can be firmly rooted and grow strong and united.
The way to manage our differences is not by creating enclaves whereby Malaysians will be segregated and separated from one another but through understanding and respect. Let us live together next to one another rather than to live apart. Each succeeding generation of Malaysians should grow closer rather than to be pulled apart.
The site chosen in Section 23 of Shah Alam for the Hindu temple to be relocated to complies with local government conditions. It is over 300 meters away from any housing area, six times more than the 50-meter requirement. If the authorities accept the objection to it by certain quarters, the social dynamics of Malaysian life will be affected and the consequence on national integration will be very serious indeed.
We must not subscribe to the view of thinking about Malaysians as majorities and minorities, and majorities versus minorities.
MCCBCHST therefore calls upon all Malaysians of goodwill to be in earnest prayer for the peaceful and just resolution of the issue. Those in authority at the community, religious and governmental level must be firm to unequivocally reject unreasonable, unfair and anti-social behaviour and demand.
Rev. Dr Thomas Philips, MCCBCHST President